Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Tuesday 09 March |
Saint of the Day: St. Frances of Rome
home iconArt & Culture
line break icon

House of Roman army officer discovered underground 1,800 years later

ROME,SUBWAY,ARCHAEOLOGY

World News Courier | YouTube

John Burger - published on 07/11/17

Rome subway construction delayed when workers find ancient home

New Yorker commuters might be grousing because much-needed repairs at Penn Station are causing delays and overcrowded trains. But at least they don’t have to wait for archaeologists to finish digging before work can proceed.

That’s what citizens of Rome have to put up with before they can use an already-long-delayed new subway line.

Rome’s Line C might not be up and running for another decade—or maybe two—CNN reports. It all depends on what other juicy finds workers make as they dig the tunnel. The latest find, near the Colosseum, sounds pretty exciting.

“Thirty-three feet underground, at the bottom of a concrete-lined pit, archaeologist Gilberto Pagani patiently scrapes dirt from a charred beam of wood that has laid [sic] undisturbed for around 1800 years,” the CNN report begins.

The discovery is part of a house that was destroyed by fire and may have belonged to a senior Roman army officer. The fire, though, left some things intact, including wooden beams.

“It’s an extraordinary situation,” says Rome’s archaeological superintendent Francesco Prospetti. “The collapse of the ceiling sealed everything inside. It was carbonized without being burned.”

No human remains have been found, but the skeleton of a large dog was at the bottom of the pit.

“This poor dog was already in the room during the fire,” said archaeologist Simone Morretta. “We found ashes under its paws. Probably part of the burning ceiling fell on it and there it was stuck and died.”

Morretta said that fires in ancient Rome were frequent, as houses were “full of wooden elements. Fire was used for lighting and cooking, which was done over an open flame,” she said.

Line C’s construction, which started in 2007, has yielded other surprises before this. Last spring an army barracks was discovered, and in 2009 the remains of Emperor Hadrian’s 2nd-century Athenaeum school.

It might be difficult to see it now, but one day, all the waiting should be worth it, archaeologists say.

“It was foreseen in the planning for Linea C that there would be plenty of time set aside for archaeology,” Prospetti said. “Our effort is to transform an apparent hindrance to public service into a great opportunity, by giving Rome a subway unique in the world, in which you go underground not just to take a train, but also to take a journey in history.”

Tags:
Archaeology
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
DOMINATIONS
Philip Kosloski
10 Mysterious things to know about guardian angels
2
tabernacle
Philip Kosloski
5 Important things to notice in a Catholic church
3
Philip Kosloski
10 Things you should know about St. Joseph
4
MIRACLE SUN
Philip Kosloski
7 Breathtaking miracles that can restore your faith in God
5
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Pope calls us to Abraham’s hope: Full text of address in Ur
6
Ziggurat of Ur
John Burger
Pope’s trip to Iraq is like a pilgrimage to a Holy Land
7
VaticanNews.va
Pope in Iraq: Schedule and key events
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.